Build a Supportive Partnership (Public article)

Public article

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By Jane Verity ©Dementia Care International

Our attitude and approach to our role as family carer can make or break the experience, both for the person with dementia and for  their carers.

The first step to success is to change the way you think of your role from that of carer to building a supportive partnership where your role becomes that of the supportive partner. Here are some of the reasons behind the need for this shift in thinking.

When you think of yourself as a carer where you are the one to give care, it implies that the other person is a care recipient. This viewpoint in family care situations can tip the relationship balance in several negative ways and may result in the carer slowly taking over and gradually losing respect for the person in care.

This imbalance can prompt unpleasant, angry and frustrated outbursts from both the carer in the giving role, and from the person living with the diagnosis because they do not wish to be a care recipient, nor do they want to need help or care.

People with dementia want opportunities to be needed and useful, and still be able to care. They seek support and encouragement so that they can continue to be engaged in meaningful activities. They need to be contributing citizens still making a difference in their world.

By shifting thinking to being a supportive partner  implies a partnership of two equal human beings. This new approach and attitude fosters respect for one another.

A Supportive Partner Needs To:

  • Be in the moment with the person who has dementia and meet them exactly where they are. The person may feel challenged imagining the future and may not remember the past but they are an expert at living in the moment.
  • Use empathy, intuition and creativity to discover what the person with dementia is attempting to communicate. By working with the person, the meaning and needs behind their words and gestures can be discovered, avoiding unnecessary frustration for everyone involved.
  • Set the person up for success. This may be as simple as picking up where they stall and often they only need assistance to restart by being shown the next step.
  • Create opportunities for spontaneity and laughter. People with dementia are masters at being spontaneous.

Successful and positive interactions will flow easily once you build a supportive partnership and become the Supportive Partner to a person with dementia.

Further reading – Click here:

Build A Supportive Partnership: Extended Members article – Jane Verity. Read the full article and discover insights and practical solutions to ensure your experience of supporting someone with dementia is the absolute best possible for you both.